Mental illness awareness and the need for treatment has continued to grow over recent years. However, many people who need help with their mental health still don’t seek it. Why? One major reason people are reluctant to reach out is the fear of being stigmatized if they admit they need help. Admitting your problem to your doctor, peers, or even yourself can be difficult, but seeking help is the most effective way to lead you to your desired lifestyle.
Acknowledging that you have an illness that can be treated is one of the hardest things to do when overcoming a mental health condition. It’s common for people to be reluctant about admitting that they need treatment, whether it be a fear of judgment by others or even yourself. Putting those unhelpful thoughts behind you and asking for support shows just how motivated you are to take the first healthy step in the right direction, which can take a lot of courage. As you would with any physical injury, getting help starts with reaching out to someone who can work with you to get better. Treatment provides relief by identifying any barriers that interfere with your work and personal life and diminishing those symptoms for an overall healthier lifestyle.
Mental health stigma doesn’t always come from others. It may also come from self-judgment and negative preconceived thoughts. A common misconception is that mental illness is a sign of weakness and that you should be able to control it without help. Seeking help is vital to a supportive and pivotal recovery.
Becoming educated on the mental illness you are dealing with will help you realize you are not alone on this journey and can encourage transforming any previous negative self-judgment into positive self-esteem.
Seek a Supportive Environment
Don’t isolate yourself on this mental health journey. It can’t be expected that others will reach out first and help you overcome a mental health stigma if they aren’t aware of your current situation. There are tons of local and national support groups available that offer helpful programs and resources. These groups promote educating those with a mental illness and their peers in a movement towards a healthy recovery. Some benefits of being surrounded by a supportive peer environment include:
- Increased self-esteem, confidence, and positive feelings
- Better ability to cope with mental health problems
- Learning from others who have been or are in a similar situation
- Direct advice and no fear of judgment
Express Yourself Mindfully
It’s important to make sure you separate yourself from the illness itself and recognize the opportunity for growth ahead. Rather than saying, “I’m bipolar,” try saying, “I have a bipolar disorder” or “I’m battling a mental illness.” This provides encouragement that you will not be in this mental state forever, and you can overcome it. If diagnosed, that mental illness is just one part of ourselves that can’t define who you truly are as a person. Being kind to yourself and others can go a long way and significantly impact overcoming mental health stigma.
Speak Out Against Stigma
Consider expressing your opinions in a confident manner, whether it’s to your peers or a large audience, to provide support for those who need it. Educating others assertively and respectfully will help promote positive change in more ways than you may think. Speaking out can inform others about the benefits of asking for help and reduce stigma while also giving courage to those who may be reluctant about the mental health journey. It’s nice to be reassured that overcoming mental health stigma is just a learning journey that leads to better days ahead.